(About Tom)





'Project Hopscotch'

City of Bradford, 1997, by Tom Cousins with citizens.

Pictured, Lord and Lady Mayor of Bradford.


Bradford Council's Local Agenda 21 Unit asked me to design a poster to promote the aims and objectives of Bradford Local Agenda 21. To this end for eight months in 1997 I photographed 30 groups of Bradford citizens hopscotching on my mobile hopscotch mat.

Sarah, organic carrot lover.

The Lord Mayor, University Vice-Chancellor, Cathedral Provost, business people, community groups and individuals all took part. They chose their key words representing "sustainable development", which were then chalked into the hopscotch squares, and they were then photographed hopping to it. Some of the people chose generalised sets of words, such as Professor John's "University of Bradford, Making, Knowledge, Work, For, The Future". Others such as Sarah the organic carrot chose very specific words, "Allotment, or Garden, Plant, Grow, Pick, Eat". This range of interpretation of Agenda 21 was important to make it clear that sustainability is about how we approach everything, not just cycling, recycling, or litter.

Bradford Proverst John Richardson

The Bradford Telegraph and Argus used four of the photoshoots for picture captions through the year. Five of the hopscotch photos were used in a photocollage printed poster distributed widely throughout the city. The 30 photos of hopscotchers are pegged onto skipping ropes and displayed at environmental conferences and events for ambiance enhancement.

Since this was a promotion project, the wide a range of product dispersal was important. Equally the personal contact with the individuals and groups hopscotching aimed to provide a higher impact and motivational force for a significant number of people.

Everyone approached was happy to hopscotch, showing a widespread undercurrent of enthusiasm for Agenda 21 issues. I also ran several workshops, one at the Pakistan Community Centre and another with Year 4 children at Wapping First School. I outlined the Agenda 21 issues, and then sat back as the issues were discussed, and hopscotch words chosen.

The discussions at with both groups were notable for the depth of subject covered, and also a focus on core aesthetics of daily life free of political compromise. Both groups were well versed in the issues, with cars the main focus of attention. The younger children expressed dislike of cars because of asthma, a local playground being turned into a car park, and road kill. The older teenagers recited reasons for curtailing the car, but on the other hand were very much looking forward to owning and driving very big exspensive ones!

The youth group were also very familiar with ideas of empowerment. They had already undertaken some local projects demonstrating effective collective effort and genuine commitment to improving the local community. They were eager for empowerment and support both financial and administrative, to realise larger projects.

I was pleasently surprised that workers and management at factories like Cytec Industries Ltd were prepared to hopscotch in their hard hats. And inspired seeing that industrial processes in some factories being rigorously analysed and significant effort being made to make them environmentally benign.

 Richard Smith, Cytec Industries Ltd

Hopefully the poster project helped re-inforce and encourage the groundswell of environmental awareness and motivation clearly already established in the city.

To finish off the project, I had hoped to organise an award ceremony in the City Art gallery. For it I would have presented photos of all the hopscotchers, and displays of 4 or more creative interventions by them. I would like to have invited all the participants, local press, and anyone else to the award ceremony and arranged for the mayor to present them each of the 4 with some sort of award. But the City Art gallery wan't interested. Shame, it would have been an 'sustainable development' fitting end to bring the diverse range of citizenary together for a glass of wine.